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Oct 21, 2016

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It’s in the Attitude

Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2

Regina drove home from work discouraged and tired. The day had started with tragic news in a text message from a friend, then spiraled downward in meetings with co-workers who refused to work with any of her ideas. As Regina was talking to the Lord, she thought it best to put the stress of the day aside and made a surprise visit with flowers to an elderly friend at a care center. Her spirits lifted as Maria shared how good the Lord was to her. She said, “I have my own bed and a chair, three meals a day, and help from the nurses here. And occasionally God sends a cardinal to my window just because He knows I love them and He loves me.”

Attitude. Perspective. As the saying goes, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.” The people James wrote to were scattered because of persecution, and he asked them to consider their perspective about difficulties. He challenged them with these words: “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).

“Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

We are each on our own journey of learning to trust God with hard circumstances. The kind of joy-filled perspective James talked about comes as we learn to see that God can use struggles to produce maturity in our faith.

Lord, please change my attitude about hard times. Bring about joy, perseverance, and maturity in me.

God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache.

 

By Anne Cetas 

INSIGHT

When James says, “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position” (1:9), he reflects the paradox of Jesus’s words in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” said Jesus, describing those who are spiritually humble, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

No one wants to suffer, but without testing, there is no perseverance. And without perseverance, there is no spiritual growth and the eternal reward that comes with it.

How might you choose to respond when you find yourself in humble or difficult circumstances?

Tim Gustafson

Responding to The Closed Doors

1 Samuel 13:1-14

As believers, we want to follow God’s will for our life, but sometimes we don’t know which way to go. Perhaps we’re standing at a crossroads, wondering which pathway is the Lord’s. Or maybe after making good progress, we suddenly encounter a closed door. What are we to do when the path we want to travel is blocked?

Imagine yourself standing at one of these doors. First, you try the knob, but it won’t budge. So you pull out your keys and look for one that fits. When that fails, you call your friends to ask if they know how to open it. Finally, in frustration, you grab a crowbar and pry the door open. The problem with all these methods is that they won’t get you where the heavenly Father wants you to go.

King Saul found this out when he pried open a door the Lord had closed. He should have waited for Samuel, as only the priests were allowed to offer sacrifices. But Saul looked around at the circumstances, became frightened, and took matters into his own hands. Instead of standing at the door, trusting in the Lord, and waiting for Him to open it at the right time, Saul forced his way in, and as a result, lost his kingdom.

The costs of disobedience are always higher than the benefits of pushing through a closed door. If the Lord has sealed off an entry, it’s for your protection. The right response is to wait patiently and be faithful in your present situation. In time, He’ll either open the door or redirect you to the path that leads to His will.

Fire of Hell

“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

The word for “hell” in this verse is gehenna, and this is the only one of its 11 occurrences in the New Testament that is not a direct quote from the lips of Christ. Since the tongue is not a literal fire and since its misuse can in effect make it a “world of iniquity,” this passage suggests that hell itself is the ultimate world of iniquity that has made the uncontrolled tongue an extension of itself.

The Bible speaks of this future hell as a place of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). However, if these were fires such as we have here on Earth, it is difficult to see how, as Jesus said, God will “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Fire would destroy the body, but what about the soul?

The fire of hell may include some kind of spiritual fire or environment whose destructive nature can only be characterized by the metaphor of fire. The “lake of fire” cannot be on Earth, of course, because the Beast, the False Prophet, and Satan will all be sent there before the disintegration of Earth in its present form, whereas all lost human souls will be sent there after that event (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-11, 15). The awful lake probably is somewhere far out in the “outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30; Jude 1:13).

And it will be “a world of iniquity” where “he that is unjust [will] be unjust still: and he which is filthy [will] be filthy still” (Revelation 22:11). Those who have opted not to be with Christ will be given their chosen status forever. That means no light, no peace, no rest, no joy, nothing at all associated with the Lord. One should certainly “flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7) while he can. HMM

Come, Lord Jesus, Now Would Be A Good Time

We will now read Isaiah’s prophecy of the glory of the church in the latter days through the ingathering of the Gentiles. There is neither space for comment, nor need of it.

 

Hasten, Lord! the promised hour;

Come in glory and in power;

Still thy foes are unsubdued;

Nature sighs to be renew’d.

 

Time has nearly reach’d its sum,

All things with thy bride say “Come;”

Jesus, whom all worlds adore,

Come, and reign for evermore!

 

Our Guidance Is by the Spirit

Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

We can always trust the moving and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and experiences, but we cannot always trust our human leanings and our fleshly and carnal desires. That calls for another word of balance. We know that the emotional life is a proper and noble part of our total personality. But by its very nature, it is of secondary importance, for religion lies in the will, and so does righteousness.

God never intended that such a being as mankind should become the mere plaything of his or her feelings. The only good that God recognizes is the willed good. The only valid holiness is a willed holiness. That is why I am always a little suspicious of the overly bubbly Christian who talks too much about himself or herself—and not enough about Jesus. That is also why I am more than a little concerned about the professing Christian whose experience does not seem to have resulted in a true inner longing to be more like Jesus every day in thought, word and deed!

 

Christian Liberality

“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” Ps. 41:1

To think about the poor and let them lie on our hearts is a Christian man’s duty; for Jesus put them with us and near us when He said, “The poor ye have always with you.”

Many give their money to the poor in a hurry, without thought; and many more give nothing at all. This precious promise belongs to those who “consider” the poor, look into their case, devise plans for their benefit, and considerately carry them out. We can do more by care than by cash, and most with the two together. To those who consider the poor, the Lord promises His own consideration in times of distress. He will bring us out of trouble if we help others when they are in trouble. We shall receive very singular providential help if the Lord sees that we try to provide for others. We shall have a time of trouble, however generous we may be; but if we are charitable, we may put in a claim for peculiar deliverance, and the Lord will not deny His own word and bond. Miserly curmudgeons may help themselves, but considerate and generous believers the Lord will help. As you have done unto others, so will the Lord do unto you. Empty your pockets.

 

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